by Casey Lambert on February 5th, 2015
Fantasy dynamos Shannon and Dean Hale have done it again, this time for the younger crowd. Their most recent book, The Princess in Black, is the first installment in what is sure to be a beloved series. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham this early chapter book is loaded with high impact, full color illustrations that play beautifully with the delightful text.
Not only is she the quintessential pink wearing, tea sipping, delicate and dainty princess but Magnolia has a monster fighting, black wearing, day-saving alter ego–the Princess in Black. Even her horse, Frimplepants, is a unicorn by day and faithful crime fighting steed by tea time. Children and adults alike will get a kick out of the tongue in cheek humor, appreciate the bending of traditional gender mores and will love the way Magnolia shows us all that we can be whomever we choose.
by Casey Lambert on January 4th, 2015
Before, After by French artists Anne Margot-Ramstein and Mattais Arégui is a wordless picture book, released in the U.S. in 2014, which addresses the cyclical nature of time.
In 126 fully illustrated pages the authors explore what time means and does to nature, animals, plants, people, technology and our ways of thinking. Generally, each page spread represents one set of before and after. Many interact with one another or hearken to earlier sets of images, all of them are beautifully detailed and leave much to be explored in subsequent readings.
Surprisingly philosophical, this work begins in the inverse of how it ends, making it capable of being read in both directions and thus allowing time to flow forwards, backwards and in the round. Repeating images, literary allusion and tongue in cheek humor make this a great read for all ages.
by Casey Lambert on November 18th, 2014
This season has been chock full of sequels to some of my favorite wordless picture books from 2013.
“The Journey Continues” in Aaron Becker’s Quest. Fans of the Caldecott Honor winner Journey will be delighted and enthralled from the moment they open this second installment in the Journey Trilogy.
From Quest by Aaron Becker
Becker picks up exactly where the friends left off and immediately readers are taken on an incredible journey to save a king and his kingdom. With vivid imagery, vibrant colors and an expert hand at illustration, Becker draws readers into his world and simultaneously ties it to our own.
Hank Finds an Egg, by Rebecca Dudley has been joined this month by the sequel, Hank Has a Dream. Dudley’s work continues to amaze me, she works in diorama and photography–everything seen in any of the Hank books has been made by hand. Her craftsmanship and abilities as a storyteller are truly incredible.
Hank’s Home, Storywoods
One of my favorite additions to this work is the map of “Storywoods”, Hank’s world, within the endsheets. Another addition to this work, is words: Dudley juxtaposes Hank and his friend acting out the dream with an image of the dream itself on the opposite page. Honestly, everything about this work is beautiful, inspiring and original. Rebecca Dudley is a singular artist and definitely an author to watch!
Last, but certainly not least is another Caldecott Honor winner, Molly Idle, with her latest book about Flora. After dancing in the cherry blossoms with her pal the Flamingo, Flora gets ready for winter and ice skating with her pal Penguin. In what is becoming her signature wordless style, Molly Idle combines beautiful color illustrations, fun characters and flaps to tell a wonderful friendship story. The bodily expressions of Idle’s characters tell the story and lead the reader through the growing friendship between Flora and the Penguin. Though things may get frosty, the two find a way to not only make their relationship work but have a ton of fun doing it.
Quest, Hank has a Dream, and Flora and the Penguin are great reads for the young and young at heart that leave us wanting more and excited about what’s to come from these amazing Author/Illustrators.
by Casey Lambert on October 16th, 2014
Saturday, October 25th marks our annual Popo’s Puppet Festival. Joining us this year along with our favorite clown, Popo, are Jester Puppets and a rendition of Bony Legs by Buffy Quintero. Bony Legs also known as Baba Yaga, follows little Sasha as she goes to borrow a needle and thread from her witch of a neighbor. Will Sasha find a way to escape the horrifying Baba Yaga before she gets made into dinner? Stop by the library from 10-12 to find out and for other wonderfully creepy and fun shows for the entire family to enjoy.
As the holiday approaches and our collection of jHoliday books begins to dwindle keep the following titles in mind for spooky reading
Brown: A Dark, Dark Tale, Chaperon: Eerie Dearies, Cole: Bony Legs, Cyrus: Your Skeleton is Showing, Ehlert: Boo to You!, Gorey: The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Idle:Zombelina, Kohara: Ghosts in the House & The Midnight Library, Rohmann: Pumpkinhead, Schwartz: A Dark, Dark Room, Van Allsburg: The Witch’s Broom, Wilson, Who Goes There?
For more spooky titles outside of the Halloween collection, stop by the children’s department!
“I is for Insomnia”
by Casey Lambert on September 12th, 2014
Meet Pomelo. He’s a tiny little “garden elephant” who has big imagination and an even larger vocabulary. Written by Ramona Badescu and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud, the Pomelo series is by far one of my favorite ongoing picture books series for all ages. Raucous, inventive, heartfelt and surreal each of Pomelo’s stories blends into the next not only giving readers a glimpse of what being a garden variety elephant entails but instilling us with the desire to see more of this little pink adventurer.
His journey begins with Pomelo Begins to Grow in which our little elephant wonders if, when and how he’ll grow and what will come with this new stature. “Could it turn out that one day Pomelo is the biggest of all?”
Next, Pomelo Explores Color. From”the silent white of the blank page” and “the comforting white of the dandelion” to “the magnificent black of fade-out endings”, Pomelo sees and knows it all, especially the shades in between.
In Pomelo’s Opposites we take a deeper look at his character, his world and consequently at ourselves. Exploring opposites from up and down through dream and reality, this whimsical page turner will keep you laughing from start to finish.
The latest installment in the Pomelo series, Pomelo’s Big Adventure, sees our little friend off into the wide world after packing everything he needs, of course. Aside from adventure, Pomelo discovers much along the way and perseveres through a “world ruled by chance”. These are books that I can read over and over and not only are they always enjoyable but each one brings a little more of Pomelo to the table showing his readers combined whimsy and verity. I can hardly wait for the next installment in the series and am in fact thinking of finding all of the original publications, in French, of which there are eleven.
by Casey Lambert on July 19th, 2014
Rebecca Chaperon’s new picture book, Eerie Dearies: 26 ways to miss school, is a hilariously haunting abecedarian that is not for the faint of heart or humorless. While not all of her heroines, and yes they are all female, meet their demise playing hooky, a few are already undead and others are well on their way.
“I is for Insomnia”
Each of her full color acrylic illustrations are set on old and well worn book covers with many of the titles remaining visible, interacting with and commenting on the excuse for nonattendance. With their similar melancholic expressions, elongated features and the whimsical play between page design and illustration Chaperon almost alludes to Edward Gorey’s, The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
Full of excruciating detail that only multiple readings will reveal, Rebecca Chaperon has created a delightfully grim exploration of the alphabet and cutting class.
Disclaimer: I cannot recommend all of these alternatives to attending school.
“R is for Revenge”
“J is for Juvenile Delinquent”
by Casey Lambert on May 13th, 2014
It’s that time of year again! Our annual celebration and summer reading kick-off event, Children’s Day, is scheduled for Saturday June 7th. This year, the library is sponsoring a few fun stops and booths for which we are still seeking volunteers: at Crazy Locks Hair Salon we will be spraying hair different bright colors, Silly Props for Photo Ops will entail helping children choose props for goofy photos and at Make your Mark in the City of Literature we will be providing chalk to sign and decorate one of our large bookmarks.
Aside from Library sponsored booths, Summer of the Arts (SOTA) is hosting a veritable smorgasbord of fun activities, events and crafts for children and families to enjoy.
Volunteer shifts are three hours long, one from 9-12 and another from 12-3. Please visit the SOTA website, linked below, for volunteer registration and for a full list of volunteer opportunities.
by Casey Lambert on April 8th, 2014
I was recently asked about the last “adult” title I read in its entirety–my response? “It’s been almost three years but In Cold Blood was wonderful, I highly recommend it.” As a children’s librarian I have found myself reading too many titles to count, largely because a good portion of my personal and professional reading revolves around picture books, readers, board books and jfiction and, let’s be honest, I devour children’s titles. This being the case there are a few publishers that I’ve found to consistently print quality books for children. Of these, Chronicle Books is a personal favorite for picture books.
Past Chronicle gems include Molly Idle’s Flora & the Flamingo, Tullet’s Press Here, Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack, Wave by Suzy Lee, Lifetime by Lola Schaefer, Parot’s Kokeshi, Kimonos and Duskey’s Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site among many others. In my constant perusal of the children’s new shelf I recently found several Chronicle picture book titles that, for me, set the scene for the 2014 publication year in terms of graphic design.
Cat Says Meow and other Animalopoeia by Michael Arndt is a standout title in which the letters from each of the featured animals’ sounds become integral parts of the illustrations. You and your children will have great fun talking about the sounds letters make and finding them within each animal. It’s a great book for exploring the interaction between typography, image and reading.
Run, Dog! by Cécile Boyer follows a ball chasing dog through interactions with his urban surroundings. Utilizing every portion of the book, the narrative starts on the cover and runs through the final endsheet, starting over again with the phrase “Follow that ball!” on the back cover. Told using few words and a unique increasing flap page structure this book is great for children who are learning to read or like to explore titles on their own.
In short if you‘re looking for a great picture book for any age Chronicle Books will have something to fit your needs. If there are glasses on the spine chances are it’s worth a look!
by Casey Lambert on March 14th, 2014
To celebrate the Iowa City Community School District’s upcoming spring break we are hosting a variety of School’s Out Specials designed for the family.
Tomorrow at 10:30 we are hosting a pet adoption storytime presented by the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation. Come by to learn about their new facility in progress and meet some animals in need of families. Celebrate spring on the farm with Scott Koepke from New Pioneer’s Soilmates and Muddy Miss Farms founder, Shanti Sellz, on Wednesday the 19th from 10:30 to 11:30. We will be building a vertical pallet garden, talking about seed saving and more! Thursday morning brings us a Comedy Magic Show presented by Rick Eugene Brammer at 10:30. And finally, library veteran and favorite clown, Popo, will be sharing his Spring Surprise on Saturday the 22nd at 10:30.
Be sure to stop by this Sunday as well for a St. Patrick’s Day clothing decorating event from 2:00 to 4:00. Don’t get caught in a pinch and be sure to bring an old t-shirt or jeans to dress up for Monday’s holiday.
by Casey Lambert on March 1st, 2014
Since Valentine’s Day the Children’s Department has been home to an original Lego castle specifically built for our display case by Sam Maynard. This castle was constructed to be displayed in sections but in fact was assembled as one piece with individual fold out sections. This deceptively simplistic concept has allowed us to display the castle in multiple ways so every part of its complex interior can be viewed and enjoyed. Chock full of costume characters from some of our favorite movies, fairytales and adventures we have created a visual scavenger hunt. I have been moving these characters over the past few weeks to create individual stories that patrons can follow by checking back to see where characters are now. I started with Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Man in separate sections of the castle for instance, and over time they have come together and now stand, weapons drawn facing one another. Make sure to keep checking the castle to see what happens next!
As part of the fun of the Lego Castle I thought it would be great to get our youngest Lego fans involved by having a name drawing. Today I drew one name and am happy to announce that the Lego castle has been dubbed “The Fire Temple” by Edward Kenyon. My thanks go out to all of those who entered the drawing, we ended up with almost 50 names!